Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Herb & Dorothy: the coolest art collectors ever

Just watched the coolest documentary...
The full title, with it's subtitle is: Herb & Dorothy: the incredible true story of a postal worker and librarian who built a world class art collection. Click here to visit the documetary's website. Here they are in earlier years with part of their collection:
Below is a more recent picture taken around the time the documentary was made in 2008 (the cat's name is Archie). In a nutshell, Herb and Dorothy Vogel, a NYC couple of modest means, made art collecting their hobby and passion, learning, visiting galleries and making their way to unknown artists' studios. They lived on one income and used the other to buy early works, storing them all in their 1 bedroom apartment ("I noticed their bed getting higher and higher" one family member said in the documentary, lol), being careful to rotate and cover the works to limit the light exposure. Herb has an incredible eye for picking out pieces, and understanding the artist's development.
Bursting at the seams, they eventually donated their entire collection to the USA's National Gallery of Art in Washington DC. Truckloads of thousands of works. They never sold a single work, they didn't want to. When the gallery decided to provide them with a modest stipend to help them to "get a new sofa when they got their apartent back" (the old one having been buried ages ago), help with upkeep and deal with any health issues.... the Vogels turned around and used the money to buy even more art, which they donated to the gallery.... lol. The National Gallery eventually deemed they could not hold the entire collection (well over 4000 works), so smaller collections of 50 works were donated to all 50 states. How cool.
This picture is from Perfect Vision, W magazine's article on the couple, it is worth reading to get a sense of how they did it, and some of the works they collected.
The documentary was shown tonight on Knowledge Network, and mom and I were glued to the set (thanks in large part to my sister's markings in the December issue of the K schedule). It was fabulous!!! I will be watching for it to be shown again, as there was so much to absorb.

I have only been to Washington DC once in the past, but this has me wanting to return again. I just have to see that collection! And I love the fact that, thanks to the 50 works for 50 States program whatever American state I visit, I can see a portion of the collection in some gallery there. That's cool 50 times over.

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